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Katie Brewer
17/6/2024

A Personal Message and A Public Health Warning - By Katie Brewer

I really can’t claim any understandable reason for being so utterly devastated about Dr Michael Mosley’s tragic death as I only met him once, but I find myself wandering around in disbelief and just feeling immensely, inconsolably sad about it.
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It feels as though I have lost a treasured friend but then I think that is probably what we all as a nation are feeling, and not just nationally, but globally, as he possessed all the traits of the very best kind of friend; the one who is always there for you helping you live a better, healthier, happier life, who has your best interests at heart.

He even put his own health at risk with his crazy experiments in order that we could benefit. And he wasn’t the judgemental kind of a friend, or the perfect one or the superior one who can make you feel bad - those types can be so hard to bear - because he confessed to us all that he messed up too, all the time.

He was, in his words, “the labrador” who would go round his house seeking out treats and secretly eating them. Even with his brilliant mind he would explain his findings simply and there was never any “talking down” to anyone. He really was what we all cherish in a friend; kind, funny, generous, flawed, and maybe that’s partly why his death is affecting us all so deeply. 

Another reason to feel so sad is that the walk he embarked upon seemed a relatively innocuous undertaking and the tragedy is complete because there he was devoting his life to make the rest of us feel better and live longer and now his life has been taken from him.   

I was lucky enough to go to his house to interview him on 15th March this year thanks to an introduction made by New College, Oxford where we both were at University. A couple of weeks earlier I watched him and his wife, Dr Clare Bailey, at The Barbican in London doing their “Eat Well, Sleep Better, Live Longer” show, one of many they performed around the country. It was packed, full of both people and helpful, practical, clearly explained health advice. And it was great fun!

As a self-experimenter, Michael related some hairy stories of what he had put himself through in the search of furthering medical understanding. On one occasion, he went all the way to Kenya to swallow a cyst from the tongue of an infected cow in order to study the effects of a tapeworm growing inside him. He showed video footage of an alarmingly long tapeworm clearly thriving in his gut.

Having loved his “Just One Thing” podcast, and having read several of his books, I follow his health advice every day. Whether it’s starting the day with squats and press ups, or eating beetroot, Pink Lady apples, sauerkraut and dark chocolate, or walking downhill instead of only up, taking cold showers, singing and dancing, I try to do them all (and they work)! 

Despite their crazy schedules, Michael and Clare were so warm and welcoming to the point I left the house armed with some homemade sauerkraut and Clare’s new Fast 800 recipe book – excellent by the way. 

When interviewing Michael, I was struck by his kindness, by how self-deprecating and funny he was and by the fact that he was working so hard and with such passion and enthusiasm to improve the lives of others. 

Just look at what he achieved. He contributed to changing the thinking around gut health. He supported Barry Marshall’s research that Helicobacter Pylori was responsible for gastric ulcers and cancers and not stress as doctors at that time believed. That has probably changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people. When he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes it was thought to be an incurable disease.

Michael went in search of a cure and managed to put himself into remission through intermittent fasting and the 5:2 diet. Again, millions of people have followed his advice and have changed their diagnosis and lives as a result. 

He has been responsible for changing Government policy resulting in positive changes in health recommendations and treatment. 

Michael said that one of the best things we did for modern medicine was creating the London sewers and that, more recently, banning smoking in pubs saw an almost immediate drop in the rates of heart disease and dementia. He felt that ultra processed foods were the new tobacco, impacting people’s waistlines and mental health. Dialogue around government policy to highlight, educate, and dissuade people from eating these foods was in progress.

He was planning on studying the link between diet and mental health next. 

I am sharing several comments people sent me post the podcast. 

“He changed my life a decade ago.”
“What a gem he is.”
“Michael Mosley is a particular hero of mine and I follow all of his seemingly crazy, but hugely informative, experiments and conclusions. We are so lucky to share the planet with such intellectual royalty.”
“He is actually making a positive difference to people's lives. He truly is the good doctor.”

It feels incomprehensible that he is gone. There is disbelief, and not a little anger. He has been taken so young, so needlessly and when he was bursting with plans and vitality to achieve so much more.

I cannot begin to imagine the agony Clare and his children are in and my deepest sympathy goes to them for their unimaginable loss. 

All I can do is give thanks for an extraordinarily brilliant, caring man and all he achieved. If there was “Just One Thing” I would ask God, the universe, if I could, it would be ‘please could we have him back?’ 

Katie Brewer studied Maths at Oxford University, before becoming a management consultant for Mercer and the World Health Organisation and then a Maths teacher at Eton College. She currently hosts a podcast Bandwidth Conversations, is an aspiring author, backing vocalist in the band STAX, a mentor to young offenders and Trustee for Key4Life (a charity which helps reduce the re-offending rate in the UK). She is also a Governor of Sussex House School, and ambassador to Auditory Verbal UK.

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